Like DG, I’m a die-hard Dharmendra fan. In my opinion, this was one actor who had it all: he looked splendid, and he could act (look at stuff like Satyakam and Anupama: sterling performances all the way). For me, Dharmendra by himself was enough reason to watch Baharein Phir Bhi Aayengi. Add to that the vivacious Tanuja—one of my favourite actresses—and a madcap Johnny Walker, plus a great musical score, and this was one film I was sure I’d enjoy.
Post view reactions? Mixed. Read on.
The film centres around a Calcutta-based newspaper called Jagriti. The Managing Director of Jagriti is Amita (Mala Sinha). She’s being pressured by the members of the Board of Directors, who own much of Jagriti, a result of their ill-gotten gains: they run hazardous mining concerns; they adulterate cement; and more. Amita’s only friend on the Board seems to be Mr Verma (Rehman), who—unknown to Amita—is actually in love with her.
Amita discovers that one of Jagriti’s reporters, Jitendra Gupta (Dharmendra) has gone behind the news editor’s back and published an exposé on the unsafe mines. Egged on by the Board, Amita summons Jitendra and demands an explanation. Both of them end up blowing their tops, and she fires him.
Meanwhile, Amita’s younger sister Sunita, whose nickname is Baabli (Tanuja—very bubbly!), receives a phone call from Mr Verma’s younger brother Vikram (Deven Verma), a friend of hers. Vikram’s an irresponsible prankster, and fools Baabli into believing she’s flunked her university exams. Baabli’s so distraught, she decides to commit suicide by jumping off a moving train.
That evening, Baabli gathers up her courage and tries to jump, but is `rescued’ by Jitendra. She sprains her ankle, and when the train stops, he ends up giving her a piggyback ride to the hut of a poor couple who live nearby. It’s raining hard, and Baabli and Jitendra take shelter in the spare room of the hut. It’s all very innocent, but by the time she wakes next morning, Baabli’s already half in love. She sneaks off after borrowing a rupee from the sleeping Jitendra’s jacket pocket. She also reads the name and address on the wallet: Chunnilal.
Chunnilal (Johnny Walker) is actually Jitendra’s friend, a photographer at Jagriti. He’s devoted to alcohol, and lives with Jitendra, Jitendra’s widowed sister (Mumtaz Begum) and her daughter Sushma. Baabli arrives at their home while the men are away, and asks for Chunnilal. She quickly makes friends with both women, and Sushma wonders aloud why Baabli doesn’t mind Chunnilal drinking so much. Baabli admits she didn’t know he was a tippler, and says she thinks Chunnilal is a dumb name. Yup, I agree.
Anyway, Baabli leaves a note for Chunnilal asking him to meet her in Chowringhee. Sushma gives the note to Chunnilal when he arrives with Jitendra. Chunnilal is surprised but elated at being invited by an unknown girl. Jitendra, to whom he reads out the letter, is amused and decides he must keep the rendezvous.
So Jitendra and Baabli meet, and fess up.
In the meantime, there’s been a fatal accident at the mines, and Amita feels Jitendra’s been vindicated. She therefore asks him to rejoin—this time as the news editor. He does, and as time passes, gets to know Amita better. She’s obviously attracted to him; so much, in fact, that when he comes to their home and sings the lovely Aapke haseen rukh pe aaj naya noor hai, she thinks he’s serenading her—never realising that it’s Baabli, sitting next to Amita, who’s charmed him.
This is all happening in 1962, and the Indo-China war’s just begun. Jitendra wants to become a war correspondent and go off to the front. Baabli tries to stop him, but doesn’t succeed. Amita, very distressed, reaches the airport just in time to see Baabli and Jitendra together. Crash goes her heart, but hey, that’s what love triangles are all about.
At the front, a bridge collapses, causing casualties among the Indian troops. Investigations prove that the bridge was made with substandard cement. And guess who’s to blame? The members of Jagriti’s Board. Jitendra sends off a dispatch to Calcutta. Amita publishes it, and gets into trouble with the Board, who are now ready to chuck her out of Jagriti.
As if things weren’t bad enough, Mr Verma realises Amita loves Jitendra. He confronts her with it, and she doesn’t deny it. Little does she know that Baabli, who’s standing in the next room, has heard it all.
This is where the story starts careening madly out of control, with both sisters doing their best to sacrifice their love for the other. All against the backdrop of the deteriorating situation of the management of Jagriti. There seems no way everybody can be happy…
What I liked about this film:
Tanuja and Dharmendra: they’re adorable, especially in the fabulous scene where they first meet on the train. Very endearing! I wish there were more scenes like that in the film.
The music, by O P Nayyar. The title song, Badal jaaye agar maali…baharein phir bhi aayengi, is particularly good.
Johnny Walker! He’s such a delight, as always. And he has a song all to himself too: the peppy Suno suno Miss Chatterji mere dil ka matter ji.
What I didn’t like:
Sadly, there’s lots to list here.
The first half of the film is cheerful and light-hearted; the second half descends into a morbidity that is hard to bear. Really. The last half hour was actually painful, with Baabli and Amita taking it in turns to screech and weep and be Martyr #1. Eesh. And why on earth don’t Amita or Baabli ask Jitendra whom he wants to marry? Surely the poor man should have a say.
The two themes of the film—the concept of corruption versus truth, and the love triangle—didn’t seem to mesh too well with each other. I’d have liked to see more of how Jagriti, and Jitendra’s own principles, affected his relationships with Baabli and Amita.
And yes, I have to admit: Mala Sinha, in the last few minutes, was very melodramatic. I usually like her, but the last couple of scenes made me wince.